Murder Charges Dismissed Against Former Porn Star

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Photo: St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office.

A Broward County Judge has dismissed murder charges against John Snavely, accused in 2013 of the 2010 Pompano Beach murder of a prominent, millionaire gay businessman from Maryland, Samuel Del Brocco.

The compelling story of Del Brocco’s murder made it a front-page feature in SFGN, with friends and relatives having advertised rewards for his killer. 

For a long time, law enforcement had suspected a younger, former lover, Justin DeVinney, who had a long history and angry breakup with Del Brocco only nights before he was brutally slain.

On July 19, 2013, however, DNA from a Diet Coke can in Del Brocco's townhouse was matched to saliva taken from a defendant in a drug case out of Fort Pierce. A convicted felon, John William Snavely had ties to Broward County, having danced as a stripper at Dude’s, Johnny’s and the Boardwalk, and once did porn under the name of Josh Logan.

When cops interviewed Snavely, he denied the accusations he had killed Del Brocco, only admitting that he might have met him and danced for him, but he was really “too high to remember.” He laid the killing on the former lover.

Meanwhile, the police built their case and presented it to the State Attorney’s office with fingerprints taken off Del Brocco’s Porsche, and DNA evidence produced at the scene of the murder. 

When the killing occurred, those prints and DNA were in no law enforcement database. But in 2013, when he was charged in St. Lucie County, the DNA match led to his arrest in the Del Brocco slaying. Nevertheless, the court ruled the compiled evidence was just not enough.

In throwing out the case, Judge Holmes acknowledged Snavely’s fingerprints were on the exterior of the victim’s car as well as a Diet coke can inside the house. The court also found that while the defendant exhibited anger and rage during his interrogation, there was nothing else to tie him to the crime.

What was not there was more important. There was a lot of exculpatory evidence. Hair found on the murder weapon did not belong to the defendant Snavely. Bloody shoe prints, fingerprints removed from liquor bottles, and marijuana joints did not match Snavely’s either. 

Also, DNA located in the passenger side of the car did not only not belong to Snavely, there was ample proof that Del Brocco led a secret life picking up many prostitutes and dancers, bringing them home, possibly even the day of his murder.

Additionally, despite hours of intense questioning, Snavely  never confessed, only admitting he may have met Del Brocco, but surely did not kill him. 

The police, however, found out Del Brocco had bought drugs from a third party only hours before his murder, and had made calls earlier that afternoon to other male dancers with felonious pasts. Thus, the more the court looked at the evidence, the more it excluded Snavely.

H. Dohn Williams, a renowned Broward County defense lawyer for nearly 40 years, represented Snavely. He challenged the case with what is known as a ‘Sworn Motion to Dismiss,’ alleging that given all the facts the state has against Snavely, the State did not meet its burden of proof. 

“In essence,” explained South Florida criminal defense lawyer Jeff Dean, “a prosecutor has to prove up their case to a sufficient level to get it to a jury. In this case, the court was saying their evidence just doesn’t cut it, too circumstantial and not competent or concrete.”

The State Attorney’s office has the right to appeal the circuit court’s decision to a panel of judges in West Palm Beach, serving on the 4th District Court of Appeal. 

“They would do so,” said Dean “because they claim the evidence is sufficient to present it to a jury, and it’s only fair they and not a judge decide a defendant’s guilt or innocence.”

Snavely completed his 18-month sentence for assault in St. Lucie while in custody for the murder charge. Still, he is not home free yet. He remains in the Broward County jail, on a no bond hold from Texas, where he is charged with violating the conditions of probation on another assault case. He is awaiting extradition.


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